Joe Jonas gave it a go, and, according to reports, loved every single moment. Mariah Carey (by her own admission) has indulged on several occasions. Hey, even oh-so-annoying Gwynnie Paltrow loves the contemporary pursuit. But how ’bout you? Are you a giver or a taker?
The online portal, in short, is an accommodation phenomenon which has gripped the globe, making Airbnb essentially the world’s largest “hotel group”. A “hotel group”, we might add, that services more than 3 million rooms (surpassing Hilton, InterContinental and Marriott combined) yet owns precisely none.
And we needn’t look further than Toronto to address appeal. In The Six, a veritable hotbed of bookable night shifts exists with visitor numbers on a sharp, vertiginous trajectory. And where there are visitors, of course — especially in such numbers — there are bucks to be banged.
So why not make your home pay your mortgage? Got a spare room? An unused basement? A treehouse (not so farfetched — there are loads on Airbnb) or an attic suite “des res” with potential? With certain chi chi Toronto abodes hitting the $5,000 per night mark, your turndown service could prove very lucrative. But the burning question is this: would you sacrifice your home’s privacy and open it out to strangers for (taxable) cash on the pillow?
Which brings us neatly to our own wee dichotomy. We love Airbnb, but just not on our doorstep. The thought of strangers coming and going leaves us cold, though we’d happily dive into the rental pool in someone else’s building. Hello, double standards? Thank God, then, our own condo board recently outlawed the moneymaking practice. But hang on a minute: if the powers that be in every Toronto tower did the same, there’d be no highrise Airbnb at all. As we said: double standards.
For some, the allure of Airbnb is simply about slicing vacay budgets. For others, it’s less about affordability and more about the opportunity it gives to tiptoe into other lives. To step, as it were, into new shoes. And not just any shoes — “extreme Airbnb" (as we like to call the inventory’s higher echelon) is all about penthouses, quirky spaces and dripping deluxe — by the mile.
What’s not to love? Sure, your hedonistic affray might only endure for a few stolen hours, but oh the joys of hitherto elusive fruit. Paying for extreme accommodation — by the night — is like shelling out for tickle time with a conquest who might normally be out of your league. Courtesy of that 50 Shades of Grey decorative scheme (or some other similarly inspiring aesthetic) you’ll leave better informed, even titillated.
So with whom (sorry, where) would you like to wake up? How about Bloor Street’s glittering cognoscenti? Get a hardcore fashion fix in the footsteps of Gigi Hadid and Hailey Baldwin (the latter’s sojourn set TMZ alight) with a shot of glossy Yorkville penthouse living. Who, after all, wouldn’t want their own pool, a Hästens bed, Bang & Olufsen speaker systems, private gym and home cinema? With breathtaking views, this spot is a snip at just $5,000 per night. More info at https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/13788645
Dudes who like their fun on water can man up, Ari and Vincent Entourage style, aboard a Beneteau 50-foot craft on Lake Ontario. Whilst not literally a super yacht, it’s undoubtedly epic, courtesy of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and several TVs. OK, you’ll be shelling out $1,051 per night for marina berthing (trips and tours at extra cost) but come on: think pulling power — all the nice girls love a sailor, right? Bring your own DJ, a lake of sparkling Cristal and let loose. Surf the waves at https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/17013909?s=3u2PBvhY
Certain Airbnb prospects could also save serious cash if employed as wedding venues. Sizing up a real estate package on The Bridle Path recently for a client, we thought: wow — folk could get married in there. Later, scanning Airbnb for research, we found the perfect combo of glamour and affordability: for a nightly dowry of $1,999, 12 overnight guests — plus further day guests by arrangement — can be accommodated. Courtesy of double height foyers and impressive gardens, the rental makes an ideal photographic backdrop. Just bring caterers, someone to officiate, and say: “I do”. Wannabe brides on The Bridal Path should check out https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/15865819
Another real estate client, at our suggestion, booked several Airbnb nights to check out the vibe in various ’hoods he’d been considering. From Rosedale to The Beach and from Forest Hill to Baby Point in the west end, there was an Airbnb, by his account, to suit every potential residential dream. “Try before you buy” to the power of 10? For him, it made perfect sense.
But how about you? Airbnb — the savoire of grassroots global travellers looking to live like locals no matter their destination? Or an Uber-style knife in the hotel industry’s chest? A clever moneymaking scheme and the perfect device to help pay for your home? Or the end of privacy as we know it? We’re still on the fence.
We've got tips, however. Read on.
Have a room but need direction? Here’s how to become a five-star host rather than a 2-star excuse
- Give a detailed and accurate description of everything on offer. Be honest and deliver exactly what your customer is promised. There’s no scope for excuses like: “Sorry the Wi-Fi’s down tonight and we’re out of hot water …’
- Keep your rental space clean and considered, much like a hotel suite. Keep it all relatively neutral with unfussy decor and bedding but make it leap off the screen with textiles and outsized artwork.
- Don’t scrimp on comfort — employ the best bed you can afford. Everyone wants a good night’s sleep.
- Install light-baffling blackout blinds or drapes and provide extra pillows and blankets so guests can layer up as required.
- Spend a little, gain a lot: additions like high-speed Internet, Netflix and Bluetooth speakers will substantially enhance the guest experience. And if an affordable Netflix subscription brings in good reviews, it’ll be worth every cent.
- A Nespresso machine, quality teas and scented candles will impress, while equipping your spare room like a suite (add a comfy sofa and a desk if space allows) will ensure reviews are never sour.
- And before you hit the market — try before you fly: spend the night in your own guest room to properly understand what works and what doesn’t.